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County passes 2016 budget, approves hotel tax

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Cook County Chronicle
by Kevin Beese

In a 12-5 vote Tuesday evening, commissioners adopted a budget that includes a 1 percent tax on all hotel stays in the county, as well as an ammunition tax, a tax on ticket resale locations, and increases in automation and storage fees for the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office.

“There has never been a budget that I totally agreed with,” said Commissioner Pete Silvestri, “but I think this budget has the spending count reduced. I think it is going in the right direction even though I may not agree with some of the sources of revenue.”

One of those sources of revenue is the hotel tax, which Silvestri and five other commissioners opposed. However, the measure passed with 11 commissioners supporting it.

Commissioners voting in favor of the budget proposed by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were: Jesse Arroyo, Richard Boykin, Jerry Butler, John Daley, Jesus Garcia, Bridget Gainer, Stanley Moore, Joan Murphy, Pete Silvestri, Deborah Sims, Robert Steele and Jeff Tobolski.

Voting against the budget were Commissioners John Fritchey, Greg Goslin, Sean Morrison, Tim Schneider and Larry Suffredin.

“This is a budget balanced on the backs of tax initiatives that will drive businesses and consumers out of Cook County,” said Schneider. “It is a budget that hurts the most vulnerable, restaurant workers, bellboys. There will come a point when we can’t tax anymore and that is not too far down the road.”

Preckwinkle said she is relieved to have the county’s financial road map for fiscal year 2016 in place.

“This was probably the most challenging budget since the first couple years of my first term,” the board president said.

Preckwinkle thanked commissioners for adopting the funding plan for the county.

“It was a difficult process for all of you,” she said. “I am thankful to have this budget behind us.”

The county’s leader said little time is going to be spent celebrating the budget’s approval.

“We have tough budgets ahead of us. We will be beginning next week planning for 2017,” Preckwinkle said. “That budget will be equally challenging.”

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